Studying a language as part of a degree


How can I study languages as a part of my degree?

There are no whole degree programmes in languages. However, you can choose to take one of the languages we offer either as a free choice option or as a minor. If your degree programme does not have the flexibility to allow you to study a language, you can do so
outside your timetable as a volunteer, at no extra cost for full-time students at the University. Our modules run for six months.

French Spanish
Minor Yes Yes
Free Choice Yes Yes
Volunteer Yes Yes

Free Choice: In some degrees (usually single honours programmes such as Law) you will have the opportunity to take free choice modules which will allow you to study outside your main department. You may choose to learn a language in some or all of these flexible timetable slots. The University recognises that studying more than one subject will make your degree more stimulating, and make you more employable

Minor: Many subjects can be taken with a languages minor (for example, Psychology, Law and many others). This means that a third of the programme is taken up by learning a language. Studying a language as a minor allows you to achieve a high level of ability in your chosen language as you’ll be learning it for two years.

Introduction to learning a language at Buckingham

Teaching methods How we will teach you
Assessment methods How we’ll assess you and why
Examples of coursework The sorts of activities and assignments you’ll be involved in

How do we cater for different language proficiencies?

Each language we offer is available to study at all levels – from beginners to advanced. You don’t need to worry about choosing which “stage” you are at when you opt to study a language – we will assess your level of language and place you into a group which is suitable for your abilities. As you learn more and more, you’ll move up through the stages. We offer the following modules subject to sufficient demand:

French / Spanish Stage 1 (Common European Framework level A1)
Equips students with a repertoire of basic language and strategies which will enable them to deal with personal details and simple needs. They will develop skills for communicating at a basic level: asking for / exchanging simple information, simple descriptions.

Stage 2 (Common European Framework level A2)
Equips students with a repertoire of simple language and strategies which will enable them to deal with situations and topics with a predictable content. They will develop skills for communicating adequately in the performance of simple and routine tasks: asking / answering questions, exchanging information on and describing familiar everyday matters.

Stage 3 (Common European Framework level lower B1)
Enables students to exploit a good range of simple language and strategies flexibly in order to deal with routine matters relating to everyday life. They will develop skills for communicating with some ease in predictable situations: exchanging information and expressing personal views on topics that are familiar or of personal interest.

Stage 4 (Common European Framework level B1/B2)
Enables students to exploit a wide range of simple language and strategies flexibly in order to deal with both routine and non-routine situations and topics relating to everyday life. They will develop skills for communicating with some confidence in familiar contexts: exchanging information, explaining and justifying opinions on topics that are familiar or of personal interest.

Stage 5 (Common European Framework level B2)
Enables students to exploit a range of more complex language and strategies in order to deal with familiar French / Spanish and Spanish American social and cultural topics. They will develop skills for communicating naturally, fluently and effectively.

Stage 6 (Common European Framework level C1)
Enables students to exploit a wide range of more complex language and strategies in order to deal with a range of straightforward French / Spanish and Spanish American civilisation topics. They will develop skills for communication fluently, accurately and effectively in descriptions, discussions and assessments.

Stage 7 (Common European Framework level C1/C2)
Enables students to exploit a range of complex language and strategies in order to deal with more challenging French / Spanish and Spanish American civilisation topics and operate in professional contexts. They will develop skills for communicating fluently, spontaneously and confidently in presentations, assessments and interaction.

Stage 8 (Common European Framework level C2)
Enables students to exploit a wide range of complex language and strategies in order to deal with challenging French / Spanish and Spanish American civilisation topics and to operate in professional contexts. They will develop skills for communicating fluently, confidently and effortlessly in presentations, assessments and negotiation.

Teaching methods

The Department adopts a communicative approach to language teaching. Lessons are conducted primarily in the target language, and one of the 3 weekly contact hours is devoted to the improvement of oral skills with small groups of students. Listening skills are further developed during independent study time and students are expected to complete exercises on a weekly basis in the Language Centre’s dedicated self-access multimedia rooms. The Department also emphasises grammatical accuracy, to facilitate linguistic development and to prepare students to operate in the target language in their chosen profession. Written tasks are chosen to perfect skills which will be required in the workplace and are graded to reflect proficiency levels among the groups.

Assessment methods

The Department is committed to the assessment of the four key linguistic skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening. In the last week of each module, students sit oral and listening examinations, which count for 20% and 20% respectively of their final average. There follows a written examination, which accounts for a further 40%. Since language acquisition is a cumulative process, students are encouraged to work steadily throughout the module and not rely on last minute cramming. Consequently the continuous assessment element of each module is worth 20% of the final average. This total is derived from the student’s best results in assignments set throughout the 2 terms.

Examples of coursework

We offer a wide variety of activities to help you to learn the language you’re studying. Here are just some of the things you might be doing if you study a language at Buckingham:

Oral presentations

  • about a person (Stage 1)
  • about a region (Stage 6)

Listening exercises:

  • report writing from a radio broadcast (Stage 7)
  • report writing from a television broadcast (Stage 8 )

Writing assignments:

  • writing a curriculum vitae (Stage 2)
  • writing a job application (Stage 3)
  • writing a letter of complaint (Stage 4)
  • writing a résumé of newspaper article (Stage 5)

Find Your Course

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